Saturday, July 7, 2012

Oh, Patagonia!

Last weekend, the impossible became possible. The unthinkable was thought. Pigs flew off into the everlasting winter of a frozen hell. And I? I lost every wager confidently placed on the infallibility of my favorite company, the brainchild of dear Yvon Chouinard--that Yoda of Yosemite climbing; that author of the only business book I've ever liked; that blessed paterfamilias of backpackers, surfers, and upper middle class weekend warriors everywhere. 

I bought a Patagonia jacket--and I had to return it.

This wasn't just any jacket. This was the women's down sweater. This was the jacket made of highly compressible 800-fill-power premium European goose down with a 100% polyester ripstop durable water repellent shell. This was the the jacket I'd eyed for the last six months, circling back to every few weeks to see if the $200 price tag had miraculously dropped to slightly more manageable heights (say, $150. With free shipping). 

And then two weeks ago, there it was: $140, free shipping, no tax, and in my size. I almost cartwheeled across my dining room.

Four days later, however, my joy transformed to worried incredulity, I stood in front of my bathroom mirror, clad in the jacket, staring at what looked like the Michelin Man's arms (if the Michelin Man wore mourning for a day). How was it possible that a company typically reliable with regard to sizing and cut could have designed a jacket that made me--a petite small on most days, a straight up small or extra-small on the others--look like a linebacker on Team Goose Down? 

Unnerved, I emailed CMA, a fellow down sweater owner, and asked her advice. Shoot for the XS she wrote back (I'm summarizing, but you get the picture). Two days later, the XS graced my shoulders--and snugly hugged my hips in such a way that I now looked simply like a jaunty linebacker, with a chic cinched-in waist.

The story doesn't end well, my friends.  Disheartened to a degree that only gazing, for a long time, at the giant pile of Patagonia gear I already own (some of it fifteen years old--I refuse to outgrow it) could salve (somewhat), I packed up both jackets and shipped them back. Still, my moping wasn't over. When JAR and I drove the long (long) way to Davenport on Sunday, I spent a solid chunk of the drive bemoaning my down sweater-less state. This resulted in a conversation about my "fantasy" of the jacket versus the "reality" of the jacket--a conversation that lasted from Big Basin to Santa Cruz, or a decently long time.  

In fact, the conversation only ended because we drove past the Santa Cruz Patagonia outlet, the parking lot of which we immediately sought. And though I was, and still am, down sweater-less, within this outlet I found a beautiful, seal-gray R2 fleece, marked down to an even better price than my coveted jacket, and in just the right size and cut.

So I guess the story didn't end that badly after all. Still, I'll be watching to see if the down sweater is altered next season. Patagonia, you're on notice!  

1 comment:

  1. I bought a Patagonia jacket--and I had to return it. This wasn't just any jacket. This was the women's down sweater. This was the jacket made of ...